Monday, March 23, 2009

Kyosaku as a boken

This is another translation from French of a text by Taisen Deshimaru from his book "Zen et Vie Quotidienne" which I do not believe is available in English. I found this passage refreshing and absolutely hilarious. I wish I had been here to see him beat the hell out of the godo !
Actually, the Kyosaku - a stick used to hit the student to prevent him from falling asleep, at his request - looks like a lighter and straighter Boken...


I participated to a Sesshin at the Engakuji Temple in Kamakura. When I was in College, the Abbot of Engakuji Temple was also our Morals and Ethics Professor. He also was teaching Rinzai Zen at the School.

I went to that Sesshin. For one week, every morning, I got up a 2:00 a.m. and practiced Zazen until 6:00 a.m. In the evening, we could not go to sleep, we were sitting outside, and there were lots of Kyosaku strikes. My body was red !

It lasted 5 days, I had been patient, very patient… The next morning the Godo (head of the dojo) made a mistake. As he was half asleep he hit me right on top of the head. It made me really mad. I jumped up, grabbed his kyosaku and hit him with it. “I want to leave!”

In Rinzai Zen, one does not face the wall for Zazen, but faces each other. Everyone could see us fight. They stood up and tried to grab me. I was champion of Kendo back then. I hit everybody and said “This is not a real religion, this is pure violence !”

I escaped and ran to the Head of the temple who was asleep in his bedroom.

“I want to leave and quit Zazen”. I told him everything. He burst laughing :

“In the History of Zazen, you for sure are the only one who ever beat the Kyosaku bearer !!"

This is a famous story in Japan. Since then, Rinzai as well as Soto monks are afraid of me…

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